Happy Habitats & Heritage


Glen Ellen | Sprawling Hillside Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Imagine hundreds of roses — huge ramblers, rare species, glorious gallicas, charming Chinas, teas, hybrids of many kinds — interplanted with salvias, lilies, gladiolus, dozens of other colorful and fragrant species, all in a sloping setting on the side of Sonoma mountain with views of the valley.  Fruit and olive trees provide texture and shade.

Climbing higher in this one-acre botanical delight, find increasingly drought-tolerant and native species, over a hundred in all, mixed together for harmonious textures and shades.  Near the top even more drought-resistant plants merge into the natural hillside of oak woodland, now interspersed with young olive trees.  Baby oaks have gained a foothold, planted in the past few years from acorns.  Garden sculpture mingles with dramatic plantings.

Margaret Spaulding began work on her Glen Ellen garden in 2001. It has emerged as a result of planning, experiment, love, and surprises.  It’s a sprawling, country-scale place, not neatly manicured but full of color, texture and scent. Birds and bugs seem to enjoy the habitat designed for them.

More than 20,000 gallons of stored rainwater supplement groundwater for irrigation. Margaret waters by hand rather than using an automatic system, allowing her to tend each plant and to judge individual requirements.

Plants include, besides Roses, many Salvias, Eriogonum (native buckwheat), Epilobium (California fuchsia), Buddleia, Tagetes limmonii (Copper Canyon Daisy), Artemesias, Agaves, Dahlias, Dianthus and Gladiolus.


Plants to Look Out For

Some of the key plants in this garden for this time of year are listed below. You can also download a printable plant list for this garden that lists the majority of the native plants as well as some non-natives and a few of the roses.

  1. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  2. California Buckeye (Aesculus californica)
  3. Sunset Manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’)
  4. Pipevine (Aristolochia californica)
  5. California Sage (Artemisia californica)
  6. Showy Milkweed (Asclepia speciosa)
  7. Western Redbud (Cercis occidentlalis)
  8. Virgin’s Bower (Clematis ligusticifolia)
  9. California Fuchsia (Epilobium ‘Calistoga’)
  10. St Catherine’S Lace (Eriogonum giganteum)
  11. Ken Taylor Flannelbush (Fremontodendron ‘Ken Taylor’ )
  12. Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)
  13. Western Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewesii ‘Marjorie Schmidt’)
  14. Catalina Perfume (Ribes viburnifolium)
  15. Sage (Salvia clevelandii ‘Allen Chickering’, S.c. ‘Winnifred Gilman’, S. sonomensisS. spathacea)



Parking & Access

This garden is accessed via a gravel road and includes steep, uneven terrain, and narrow pathways. Low-heeled shoes are mandatory for safety reasons.